Is this product segmentation gone too far? Does the world need girl’s microscopes, women’s toolsets

Posted by joe

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 9.15.36 AMMaybe the most important concept in marketing is segmentation. And one of the simplest ways to segment a market is by gender. Hey just make a pink version and wa-la, you have a women’s version. Just because you should segment and gender segmentation is easy, doesn’t mean that every product needs a men’s and women’s version. Yes, it makes sense for clothing. But how about pens? Ear plugs? Tea, Energy drinks? This article on BuzzFeed21 Pointlessly Gendered Products” (January 24, 2014) provides some great examples you might find fun to show in class.

What do you think of these gender-driven product differences? Can you think of some other examples?


“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future” – but marketing managers have to try

Posted by joe

“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future” is a quote usually attributed to Yogi Berra. Of course the challenge doesn’t stop some people and organizations from trying. In fact, that is the job of an organization like JWT Intelligence. This video summarizes “JWT’s 10 Trends for 2014 and Beyond.

Marketing managers often seek to get a jump on their competition by predicting future trends: What colors will be hot this year? What flavors will appeal to customers? What cultural trends are likely to influence demand for my products? 

If JWT Intelligence is right, what new product ideas might take advantage of one or more of these 2014 trends?


Some questions to help you prep for that next job interview

Posted by joe

interview1Will you be interviewing for a job soon? One way to blow the interview is to not be prepared to answer an employer’s questions. Besides the obvious — check out the company’s website — it might help to have answers to some not-so-obvious questions.  You might appreciate some of the interesting questions in this article at Bloomberg Businessweek “Interview Questions: Hiring Experts Reveal Their Favorites,” (January 9, 2014).


Home Depot Reinvents the Bucket and Creates More Value for Customers

Posted by joe

While there are many examples of breakthrough high-tech products, we (at least I) often forget the power of design with common everyday products. Take the bucket — Home Depot did. Apparently Home Depot looked to a design leader for inspiration, which you can read about in “How Home Depot Copied Apple to Build and Ingenious Bucket” (Wired, December 31, 2013).

How has Home Depot added value to the bucket? How much additional value is provided? How much more would a consumer pay for this value?


Can a great advertising sell Americans on broccoli? What would the campaign look like?

Posted by joe

raw-broccoli-lgNew York Times reporter Michael Moss went to advertising agency Victors and Spoils with a challenge:

How would you get people to want to buy and eat broccoli? What would your campaign look like? What would the message be? What would you do that all the well-intentioned government-funded campaigns have failed to do for generations?

The result was an extended story in the New York Times Magazine section “Broccoli’s Extreme Makeover” (November 1, 2013) — a story that provides a great marketing case study. Even though the campaign was never actually implemented, the article and video provide some insight into the creative process at an advertising agency. Check it out!


GoldieBlox viral video sells toys, gets girls into engineering

Posted by joe

Don’t follow the crowd!  All that competition isn’t the best way to make money. Instead, find a way to deliver unique value to a new market. GoldieBlox isn’t following the crowd — how many  “construction toys” are there designed specifically for girls? Even LEGO Friends line is mainly a doll toy. GoldieBlox thinks that product-market exists, and that perhaps it can help solve a larger societal problem — the lack of women in engineering and the sciences.

GoldieBlox needs to target moms (buyers) and girls (users) — and this ad does both. The general subject — lack of girls in engineering and technology — is a hot topic which has helped to spur buzz. You can read more about the ad and GoldieBlox in this New York Times article, “Ad Takes Off Online: Less Doll, More Awl” (November 20, 2013).

What do you think of GoldieBlox? Will this product sell? Can they help us generate a new generation of women engineers?


Citi Bike – The Story Behind Citibank’s Brilliant Marketing Idea

Posted by joe

citi-bike-share-1-e1366036215458Wow, this is a brilliant! Citibank, yes the same bank the government bailed out to the tune of  $476 billion, has found a way to change its image. Citigroup now sponsors a bike share program in New York City. In the program’s first few months (May – July 2013) Citigroup internal surveys showed customers’ (presumably in New York) “favorable impressions toward the Citi” jumped 17% and those calling Citigroup: “an innovative company” rose 12%; “a socially responsible company,” also up 12% and “for people like me” climbed 14%. You can read the whole story at Bloomberg Businessweek in “Citi Bike: Citibank’s New York Marketing Coup” (October 31, 2013). The article notes that even some of Citi’s biggest detractors begrudgingly support this effort.

This is a great example of a branded service. Many firms are turning to branded services as a way to meet customer needs and subtly (or maybe not so subtly) reinforce their brand.

I was surprised that the idea initially took a lot of selling inside of Citigroup. Maybe it is just my 20/20 hindsight, but this seems like a no-brainer to me. What do you think could be some of the pros and cons of this idea? What could a brand like Verizon do in your community? What about a brand like Coca Cola — which is faces growing criticism for its sugary soft drinks?


B2B promotion doesn’t have to mean “boring-to-boring”

Posted by joe

b2b (1)General Electric (GE) sells some of its goods directly to consumers — but most of its sales are to other businesses. While lots of B2B advertising and promotion is pretty boring, GE wanted to avoid that trap. According to CMO Beth Comstock “We are all emotional beings. We want context. We want relevance. We want connection.” This article at Advertising Age, “GE Tells the Secret of Making Geeky Cool,” (October 5, 2013), provides a great summary of some of the interesting promotion GE is doing right now:

  • See its Datalandia site its web series that attempts to show how big data solves problems, 
  • Inspired scientists (young and old) use the GE promoted hashtag (#sixsecondscience) and post videos of no more than six seconds on Vine (click here to see some examples), and
  • the “Brilliant Machines” campaign which deals with another emerging technological developments like what GE calls the “Industrial internet” and others sometimes call the Internet of Things (see ad below).

How well do you think this approach resonates with GE’s B2B customers? How does it position GE in their minds? What else could GE do to extend each of these campaigns?


Now that is one tough sales job…

Posted by joe

boeing1It can’t be easy selling airplanes for Boeing. It is a long selling cycle, you have to deal with large buying centers, and you have tough competition and powerful customers. And what if your hyped new product starts fires on planes — while they are flying! That can be a really hard selling job. That describes John Wojick’s job — he is Boeing’s top salesperson. You can read more in this article in the Wall Street Journal “Boeing’s Top Salesman Works to Rebuild Customer Trust, Fend Off Airbus” (October 8, 2013, non-subscribers may need to click here).

The article offers insights into key account management — when customers are very large. Sales is a common route for many marketing students — and seeing what this salesperson does might help them better understand the often sophisticated nature of selling. We have also posted this at Learn the 4 Ps


Promotion and the Personal Marketing Plan: The Cover Letter

Posted by joe

Are you working on your personal marketing plan? You should always be thinking about strategy for your current or future career. In the personal marketing plan, a key element of the promotion blend is the cover letter. This short Fast Company article, “Don’t Be Boring: How to Write a Cover Letter That Can Get You the Job” (September 4, 2013) will give you some tips.